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So after 22 months at the temp job, I was unceremoniously released with no reason furnished. Maybe they just didn’t want to pay the agency’s fees anymore, who knows. So I packed up. That’s what you do with temp jobs, you pack up and don’t ask questions, and then you call the agency.  Within a few hours I had another part-time temp job (not related to my agency), and was answering the email to HR. Also, I came home that afternoon to a note that I had been accepted as an instructor for a night-life class next month. And I had a high school fiction workshop to lead for the next day. I am grateful – I got out of a job I kinda hated, and I had some things lined up, as well as a few days off to manage my emotions and re-do our family budget. The Universe, clearly, is taking good care of me.

So I re-did the family budget, and we’re going to be ok, but it’s going to be super tight until I get some things rolling. The new job has fewer hours than the last job (many fewer, unfortunately), and pays less, but it’s a steady little something, so I’m thrilled. Also, it gives me time to look for another job. While I’m shifting through Monster and Craigslist, tho’, I thought this might be a good time to put out into the Universe and to you, dear reader, some of the things that I’m good at. For example:

♦ I lay out a brilliant chapbook. I can make your poetry gorgeous and ready to sell at readings. I do these at very reasonable rates,* and at the end can either send you a ready-to-print pdf, or assemble and package them up for you in pretty paper so it feels like Christmas when you receive them. I can also lay out a newsletter, set up post- and greeting cards, posters, flyers, cd packages, and other pretty paper things. You can check out my services here.

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I love multi-color batik work, but I do mostly single color stuff. The only reason that I generally do single-color work is that I haven’t found a great way to apply the colors. In the past I have mixed up small batches of the same dye that I use in the tub bath and hand-painted them onto the fabric, but those need a soda ash solution under them to make them colorfast,* and that means that the wax outline has to be applied first, and even then, sometimes the colors travel outside of the lines anyway.

I tried out dye markers next, for a less complicated way to get the dye onto the fabric, and I love the control that a marker provides. But, in honesty, I haven’t yet found a marker that I really love. All the markers that I’ve tried so far seem to start drying out on me midway through the project, so I wind up with bright colors in some places, and then dull colors where you can see the streak lines in other places.

And then I picked up some markers a few weeks ago that I really had hope for – they have squeezy barrels, so when you start getting that dry, raspy effect, you press them for more ink.** The only problem is that the tip on these dye markers is so wide that they turned out to be impractical for the detail work I was trying to accomplish.

But then I realized something – the tip of the markers actually comes off \o/ Meaning that I could pour some of the dye off and use it to hand-paint the design.*** So let me show you how to do it:
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Zomg what a week!

In addition to dailies and boss fights in Firelands, real life goes on, and it has been going on in a rather full manner. Man Cub is finally back from vacation in FL (where he had a blast, thank you), I’m still temping four days a week, and my application to vend over at the Holden Farmer’s Market* was accepted.

Which means that I’ve been sewing my little heart out. On Sunday I stitched and stitched while both  The Fifth Element and Serenity played, as well as three This American Life podcasts, and two episodes of Firefly. And I made a whole bunch of rather pretty (I think!) shopping totes =D I put some up on Etsy this morning, too, if you’d like to check them out.

And speaking of Etsy – the lovely Ms. Lavoie over at Maple Street Shoppes has rounded a bunch of us MA locals  together on her webbie. If you go visit my page by her, you’ll find a coupon code you can use at my Etsy shop.

The rest of the week has been awash in gardening and taking care of business. Read the rest of this entry »

Who gets up at 6am on a Saturday when they don’t have to work? For reals- Will will tell you out of hand that Saturdays are for sleep till eleven. Man Cub would make that nine instead, for there are video games to be played and cartoons to be watched on a Saturdays, amirite? Regardless, Saturdays are customarily for sleeping in at No. 208.

But this last Saturday we all rolled out of bed and got our butts in gear. We packed the car all full of tee shirts that I had batiked up in the basement over the last month, the hats that I had made over the course of a year, and a bunch of sticky labels with ‘Apple Batiks’ printed on them, and headed up to East Brookfield.

Super fantatsic Ms. Kris Lavoie has put together a really great concept – she’s doing home-grown craft fairs at her house, under the moniker of The Maple Street Shoppe (the link is to FB – go ahead and like her, meow meow). The idea is to support local community by purchasing from artisans that live in the area.

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Nice! Got all the stuff that involves the oven finished before the house gets too hot to want to cook. There’s a pasta salad chilling in the fridge for after Man Cub’s soccer practice, and bread is baked. I got the dishes (with the exception of the loaf pans, which are still hot) done in the cool hours of the morning, and did yoga before it got warm enough for the cat hair in the carpet to stick to my skin. This afternoon, in anticipation of Thursday’s heat wave, we shall install the ac units, and set up Pretty Pretty Princess Land*. \o/

In other news, I made the fancy yoga mat bag for Zoe! Look! Look!

Zoe had been biking to yoga class with her mat stuffed into her backpack, and it wasn’t working out for her – it bonked her in the back of the head, it got in the way when she looked over her shoulder, and was generally a nuisance. She wanted a big wide comfy strap so she could wear it messenger bag style and have it sit tight and not wobble. Also, the bag needed to be wide enough to accommodate her ittty bitty laptop for visits to the library and sundry other writing expeditions, as well as having a non-rounded bottom so said lappy doesn’t bounce around in the bottom.

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True black is getting closer! No, we’re not quite there yet, but I got a nice rich slate grey this time instead of dove grey.** There’s still a bottle of Procion Jet Black in the cabinet, but this time I went with Soft Black instead (because I’m still scurred of the Jet Black). I was worried for the first hour of the dye bath that I would wind up with plum, but then as the salt started to take effect, much to my delight, everything got darker – all at once, even: BOOM.

So there’s new stuff up in the shop this morning, after hanging out in the basement a whole bunch this weekend.

Not only is the basement, like, 10º cooler than the rest of the house, but I’ve revamped my workspace to make it a whole lot of more comfortable to work in. For one thing, goodbye to leaning over the stove next to a boiling pot! I picked up a $12 hotplate cooker thingsy with an adjustable dial. Which means I can sit at the table now \o/

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ZOMG, it’s been so dreary around here with all the rain! So this week has been a bluesy mess* while it was busy raining outside, and I’ve been trying to give that icky stuff the smackdown by keeping busy. But this morning I woke to sunshine, and my Google page promises sun through the Friday \o/

So let me show you what I’ve been up to this wet wet week! I’ve been doing some custom batik stuff. A tiny dino tee came out zomgdorible,  and I just got an assignment for a pretty mat bag that can be worn messenger-style while biking. The fabric for the bag came out of the dryer last night super pretty – lotuses! I’m looking forward to making a bag out of this and playing around with the shape of it. The client wants something particular, and I’m excited about the prospect of meeting what she wants.

I’m also working on new designs – a custom kitty and ladybug are in the works at the moment, and I’m hoping to knock those out and be ready to do another dye bath on Friday.** But the big design thing I’ve been working on is clouds.

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I’ve been feeling a little blue this week – the job search has been an annoying litany of, “I’m sorry, but you’re over-qualified,” and other pursuits are blooming in their own time (read: slowly), and my arms are a little sore from yoga. Life just had me by the tail there for a little bit, y’know? So I wanted to do something nice for myself.*

I had some test fabric left from the batch of tees that I made last weekend. A Hanuman print that came out pretty on plain muslin. I’d had it sitting since last week, trying to decide what to do with it.** Well, a girl can always use a handbag, right? Right!

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Monday was an ambitious day in the basement, where I keep my studio.  I had gotten some special orders, and they required two tub baths, so at 7:3o, as soon as Will and Man Cub were off for the day, I headed down and dug in. I think I finished around 4 in the afternoon?

I’m definitely getting better with the colors, and that’s super exciting. I even stopped the second dye bath early because the first had turned out so rich, and I wanted that one to come out less saturated. In the end, I got a dusty-grapey purple with some blue mottling, and a yummy clay red/wine stain. Also, the under-painting on the sugar skulls (pix under the cut) came out bright and vibrant the way I had hoped. \o/

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Some of this process is easier than other bits. I’m finding out that getting a white t-shirt to be a black t-shirt is one of the more difficult parts. This weekend I’ve run two batches, and come up with two very different results.

One result was a super pretty dove grey –
And while I’m pleased with how the tees came out, and even put some up on the Etsy, friends, grey is just not black.

So after that batch, I made some calls and asked people who know stuff about cold process dyeing. I told those people my process, and they hmm’d and huh’d, and we came up with two possible problems, so I worked on them.

One possible issue was the way I’ve been working with the soda ash. So far I’ve been pouring the crystals into the dye bath at the end and agitating the water to dissolve it. One of the recommendations I got was to dissolve the soda ash in water before adding it to the fabric. Easy. I added it to my list.

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June 2023